The Leftovers Handbook is an A-Z of ingredients that are likely to be in your kitchen and might well be in need of using up. There are hundreds of interesting, creative and sometimes very simple ideas to be found within the 288 pages of this book. All the obviously perishable foods such as blackberries, cauliflower and yogurt are covered, but there are plenty of others which are less obvious. How annoying is that last small glassful of sherry in a bottle which is taking up precious cupboard space? Look no further, Suzy has it covered. And how about leftover dhal? Form it into patties, cover in flour and fry. I love dhal and usually make megga quantities to last for a few days. It does sometimes get a bit boring by day three however, so I'm quite excited by this idea. Being vegetarian I skipped over the ideas for anchovies, bacon fat and various other fleshy substances.
The very first ingredient I looked for was, obviously, chocolate and I wasn't disappointed. Leftover chocolate does seem a bit of a contradiction in terms, but I do sometimes use odd quantities in cooking and get left with just a few squares of very dark chocolate that I don't want to eat. As well as several recipes, including one for hot chocolate caramel sauce, there were plenty of ideas on how to use up those last few fragments. Suzy includes a number of "cook's treats" which are scattered around the book. The one for chocolate sounds heavenly, but you'll need to get hold of a copy to find out what it is. In the meantime, know this: dark chocolate goes well with stews; dark and milk pair well with a host of ingredients including peanut butter; white chocolate "goes frightfully well with berries".
At the back of my store cupboard, I recently noticed a long forgotten half-empty jar of peanut butter. Turning to Suzy's book, I discovered many wonderful things you can do with peanut butter; the ones Suzy lists are all good clean fun. Take peanutty sweet potato soup -that's one I'll be trying as soon as the opportunity arises. The book is peppered with handy hints which are highlighted in the text. I didn't know, for example, that if you used raw kiwi fruit in jellies, an enzyme it contains prevents setting. Along with the ideas and recipes, there are plenty of tips on what pairs well with what. For instance, kumquats go well with duck, ginger, cranberries and cinnamon. This is by no means a prescriptive book - it is all about encouraging your own creativity.
The ideas and recipes are accompanied by witty and amusing commentary that had me smiling and laughing out loud on more than one occasion. I had the book on my bedside table for a while and dipped into it at random before going to sleep. Whatever page I opened, there was something interesting, useful or funny to read. Chips? Suzy gamely states "there really isn't a lot that can be done with leftover chips but I'll give it a try". And she does manage three possibilities.
There is a section at the back covering basic recipes and techniques that don't readily fit into the A-Z format. This includes Alfredo pasta sauce, which I hadn't heard of before, but will be using regularly from now on in. I've already made it twice and it is blissful - perhaps not surprising given the copious quantities of fat involved. It also covers batters, pancakes and fritters, blanching vegetables, dough, eggs, how to freeze fruit and a number of other useful things.
The Leftovers Handbook by Suzy Bowler is in paperback format and is published by How to Books. It retails at £12.99.
Fab First Fridays hosted by Fiona Maclean as I think this book is worth publicising more widely.